culture

'Atlanta' S3E8 "New Jazz" Recap

By Jacinta Howard

We’re back in Amsterdam for what’s turning out to be a hella long tour for Paperboi/Al. Darius and Al have decided their day will consist of eating a “Nepalese Space Cake” that’s probably laced with Nepalese hallucinogenic honey, (though nobody knows what’s in it for sure), while Earn thoughtfully purchases them a trip to the day spa for afterwards. 

Al (who’s rocking a groovy purple hat that Darius compliments) and Darius head to get the cookie after Darius artfully dodges splitting the bill at the cafe where they all met up earlier. On the way there, Al sees a person wearing a Goofy hat, lying in an alleyway, moaning and shaking. Darius waves him off before he can investigate further, telling him to come on so they can get their cake. When they arrive at the space cake/coffee spot, Darius is told he doesn’t have enough money for that either. “I’ll just let fate take care of it,” he concludes, closing his eyes and seeming to meditate on the spot as Al rolls his eyes from behind, before begrudgingly offering to pay for it. Seriously, Darius? Since when has he been this obnoxious? 

After they eat the cookie, Darius provides Al with a soundtrack for his trip, Stereolab’s “The Flower Called Nowhere”. It isn’t long before he accidentally loses Darius (after having a creepy run-in with a dead rat on the street) who’s trying to lead them to the spa, which means he’s  now running around Amsterdam with no security.  Lo and behold, a group of nihilistic teens spot him, thanks to his groovy purple hat, and promptly begin following him, ASAP Rocky style. Al dodges them by dipping into a dark building, watching through the cracked door as the teens lose interest in chasing him and proceed to grab a woman’s baby from a stroller and play catch with it. Al hears a woman crying in the building and turns to console her, only to be shushed by her when he asks what’s going on. She’s actually in a play of some sort, and it turns out he’s wandered into some elaborate museum where he promptly runs into a woman named Lorraine.

She calls his hat stupid, tells him his friends aren’t really his friend because they never told him his hat was stupid. She then tells him to take it off and gives him a literal Goofy hat to wear instead, telling him to “become what you fear.”  The hat also helps him blend in with the other Goofies who’ve been spotted around town throughout the episode. 

“You have no clue where your money is,” she says. She also says he’s pretty dumb because he doesn’t even know who owns his masters. 

But she seems to take a liking to him, and despite being insulted by her, Al seems content to follow her around and listens to her strange whispers of philosophical advice: “Everybody is nobody, but are you a nobody to everyone?”  After Al wonders why he should even trust her because all she does is insult him, she tells him “she’s all he’s got.” 

Lorraine leads him through a trippy adventure, where day turns to night and back to morning in minutes, and Al runs into the actual Liam Neeson at a bar called “Cancel Club,” where Neeson tells him about his own real life scandal. He then tells Al (who of course, loves his movie Taken) that he doesn’t like Black people because they tried to ruin his career. Al’s all “Didn’t you learn you’re not supposed to say that kind of shit?” To which Neeson replies, “Aye, but I also learned the best and worst part of being white is, you never have to learn anything if you don’t want to.” Message! 

After Lorraine continues dropping bombs on Al that require him to think about who’s in his circle, and why they’re there, he eventually finds himself collapsed on the street. In a trippy turn of events, it seems the Goofy person Al saw earlier was actually him. 

Al wakes up in bed, confused but Earn is there to tell him that he found him on the street and brought him back to the hotel. A foggy Al’s trippy experience still lingers with him though, and he asks about Lorraine. “Your mom?” Earn questions, confused. Al then asks another question: Who owns his masters? After a bit of a pause, Earn says Al does, and then leaves the room. 

The circular episode left much to think about. Like, does Al really own his masters? Was Earn truly savvy enough to negotiate that kind of deal for him as a person with so little music business experience? We know Al has been struggling with finding himself all season, as brilliantly showcased a few episodes earlier in “Cancer Attack” (where Liam Neeson’s name first comes up in a comedic encounter.) Is he kind of...spiraling quietly?